A friend's entry the other day about how her daughter couldn't believe there was a time without the Internet made me start to think about technology in my lifetime.
The incident I remember was my birthday when I was about 11 (could have been 10, could have been 12) when after my cake my dad brought out a giant wrapped box.
When I opened up it the box read "The Time Machine." I was just young enough to for a second think that it was a time machine, but just old enough to quickly realize it wasn't.
But I had no idea what it was. The only other markings on it read "Zenith" - which could have meant anything - and "VHS" which was an acronym I'd never seen before.
My dad then explained that this was a device that would allow me to watch television shows that were on after my bedtime.
Neither I, nor any of my friends at my birthday party, believed him. We thought this was some weird adult joke. The idea that television could be recorded and played back later was alien to us.
My dad admitted it was weird to him to. He'd gone to the electronics store thinking he was going to buy a television set for my bedroom. And then a salesman had come up to him and shown him this device.
Dad then thought of all the arguments we'd had over whether I could stay up late to watch Hill Street Blues and stuff and realized this device could end all of those discussions. In his mind it was worth its weight in gold - and the thing was fucking heavy.
It was roughly the size of a modern 19 inch television set.
None of my dad's friends had heard of such a thing. Over the next few days as my friends went home and told their dads what I had there was suddenly a week long parade of fathers coming through the house wanting to watch the device that would let them watch football plays over and over again and debate if "the ref got the call right or not."
About a year later someone else got a similar device, but my dad was upset to find out that his tapes would not work in that dude's machine. I think it was a full two years later before the first store that would rent videos opened - and that shocked us.
This device was for recording Dynasty - who knew that for a couple extra bucks you could watch uncensored movies on it too! (For the record we knew you could buy movies, but back in 1980 they were about $70 a piece, which is the equivalent of about $120 a movie today, so no one bought movies.)